The French grading system is on a scale from 0-20. To pass a subject you usually have to get 10 points. A student is considered to have passed if at the end of each academic year the average of his/her grades is at least 10. French universities grade in a stricter way than secondary schools, meaning that students are unlikely to get grades as high as they did in secondary school.

Main Disciplines

A score 20 signifies perfection and is virtually never given. Scores of 19 and 18 are rarely given. Depending on the subject, a 16 could be an excellent grade. But also in some circumstances a 12 could also be considered as an excellent grade.

Lower than 10FailedThe level of the performance does not reach the expected criteria
10-12SufficientThe level of performance is sufficient
12-14SatisfactorySatisfactory performance but there are many mistakes
14-16GoodThe level of the performance exceeds the expected level but there are some mistakes
16-18Very goodExceptional performance
18 and aboveExcellentExceptional performance

Subsidiary Disciplines

  • Failed: minimum criteria has not been reached
  • Passed: minimum criteria has been reached

Papers or Oral Presentations (Master Level)

This grading system is the same as the main one except in this one there are no descriptions.

  • 7 – 10 : your research or presentation can be improved and you are given the opportunity to present your written or oral work on another exam session during the same academic year.
  • 7/20 : the student has to start the whole research process again starting at the beginning of the next academic year.

ECTS Grading Scale in France

ECTS grade% of students usually achieving the grade            Definition 
FFAIL, INSUFFISANT – considerable further work is required. Significant additional work is necessary
FXFAIL, INSUFFISANT – Some more work required before the credit can be awarded. Additional work is necessary for granting credit.
E10SUFFICIENT – Performance meets the minimum criteria. Results meeting minimum standards.
D25SATISFACTORY – Fair but with significant shortcomings. Decent work, but with several significant inadequacies.
C30GOOD – Generally sound work with a number of notable errors. Fairly good work, with noticeable shortcomings.
B25VERY GOOD – Above the average standard but with some errors. Above average results despite a number of shortcomings.
A10EXCELLENT – Outstanding performance with only minor errors. Exceptional results, only several minor shortcomings.

The French Grading System vs American Grading System:

There is no exact formula for converting scores between the French 0–20 scale and American grades, and there are several reasons why the French and the American systems are not entirely equivalent. Some American institutions use weighted grades, where grades for advanced classes are added in the official transcripts to compensate for the difficulty of the classes. French institutions don’t use them, the result being that in a university, scores over 12 indicate that the student is in the top 10–20% of the class, grades over 14 are extremely rare, and perfect 20s are almost never given. Although the American grading system may be more “lenient” than the French one, the advantage for French education is that it’s much cheaper than the American one. Read our article about how much French Universities tuition fees cost approximately.

The equivalent of the American grading system to the French grading system is as follows:

French gradeAmerican equivalent
ABI (Absence injustifiée)F
ABJ (Absence justifiée)F
Lower than 10F

ABI and ABJ are grades given to students who miss their final exams. And they are considered as failing grades in both the French and the American grading system.
Some honors awarded to the top students:

HonorsPercentage of students who get them
Très Bien (very good) – Highest Honors1-2% of students
Bien (good) – High Honors5% of students
Assez Bien (rather good) – Honors10 to 15% of students

French Grading System vs British Grading System

Like the French grading system, the British grading system also uses numbers to evaluate the students. However, the UK grading system uses number 0-100, the UK grading system also tends to thoroughly describe students’ academic achievements. Which is an advantage because you can learn your skills and areas where you need to work more on. Now let’s see what the equivalent in the French and the American grading system is.

French gradesThe UK equivalentThe US equivalent
Lower than 100-34F

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